Changes to the way that roads and public spaces are maintained in Herefordshire are set to be discussed at a Cabinet meeting on 2 March 2023.

Public realm services are vital to communities as they include maintaining and developing roads and public spaces, maintaining green areas, providing effective drainage, lighting the highway and enabling safe and reliable travel by all modes of transport.

A recent review of these services has found that the way these are currently delivered doesn’t match how the council sees the services developing in future.

The council’s vision is for these services to better meet the needs of residents and local communities through bringing technical and contract management in-house, investment in modern technology to improve contact with customers, a transition to electric plant and vehicles to meet net zero carbon by 2030, and by maximising resources.

The Council has been working with its partner organisation Balfour Beatty Living Places (BBLP) to consider a number of options for how the services could be delivered differently from 1 April 2025, known as the Future Operating Model.

Council Cabinet members are now being asked to agree the further development of a preferred model which will include investment in technology, vehicles and equipment, and a new way of managing and staffing the contract.

Cllr John Harrington, Cabinet member infrastructure and transport, said: “When we came in as an administration we were determined to review the public realm contract.

“The issues I felt needed resolving were not around which partner we use but around the structure of the contract and around whether Herefordshire Council had enough oversight and technical services still with our internal departments, having moved almost all those positions over to BBLP in 2013, under a previous administration.

“Exploring the option of bringing technical and contract management staff back in-house, as well as the inspectors, gives me more confidence that Herefordshire Council can manage the contract better and that we take back more responsibility (with the associated risk) and give clearer direction to BBLP to ensure we get best value for money and are able to give more direction to our partner.”

Cllr Gemma Davies, Cabinet member Commissioning, Procurement and Assets, added: “This report reflects the four years that we have spent as an administration trying to provide more scrutiny, accountability and best value from the contracts that we procure.  It is now more important than ever, with the cost of living crisis, that people rightly expect the council to be getting the most out of the contracts that are outsourced

“This next step of the Public Realm contract journey will allow us to concentrate our effort on those services that are best dealt with an external provider and those that are better placed in-house with the council. I would like to thank BBLP for their readiness to be part of this work to help us achieve the best for the residents of Herefordshire.”